Sun.Star Baguio

Christmas in Baguio


T“I take full responsibi­lity…” HE VERY words of our dear mayor, Benjie Magalong in relation to the Activities the other night. Last December 1, Merry Highland Christmas was formally launched.

The activities include lighting of the lanterns along Session Road and culminatin­g with the lighting of the giant Christmas tree at the rotunda at the top of Session Road. Needless to mention, there was a “short” program that came with the tree lighting. Buy one, take one adi.

And as if nobody expected, this event drew thousands of people who wanted to witness the lighting of the grandiose Christmas tree (and the program that was packaged with the lighting).

As a reward to the people who attended the event, the night market along Harrison Road was also reopened that night. And again, as if nobody expected it, it drew crowds of excited bargain shoppers who were incarcerat­ed in their homes for nine months.

For the past nine months, most Baguio residents, rich and poor alike, followed all orders coming from the Office of the City Mayor in order to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus in our beloved city. We made sure that all quarantine requiremen­ts and health protocols were observed. We knew that these orders, no matter how ridiculous they are, were for the good of all.

The city was commended for recording a relatively lower number of cases compared to other highly urbanized cities across the country. This even earned our mayor the title, tracing czar

Six months after total lockdown, tourists were allowed to enter the city. At first, it was only limited to local tourists from neighborin­g regions, but later on allowed others from other regions, as long as they go through the triage and/or followed the quarantine requiremen­ts. I believe this was done as a preparatio­n for the Christmas season, the peak season of tourism activities.

On the other hand, there was a surge in Covid19 cases in the city. Researcher­s predicted this number may increase. The media reported it. City officials denied this and blamed the media for the misinforma­tion.

An executive order was released towards the end of November, essentiall­y banning all social gatherings, again to avoid the spread of the virus.

Then, boom! December 1 happened. They went on with the December 1 activities. Tens of thousands of netizens protested online. Some subtle, some very blatant. All these fell on deaf ears.

The day after, the night market was discontinu­ed and in about 11 days, we may record the highest number of Covid19 cases ever.

A remark that struck me was, these activities were to strike a balance between the economy and health. Obviously, I am up for economy and all, but here’s the thing, I was among the hundreds of thousands of residents who were confined to our homes for months. I knew friends and family whose livelihood were affected by the pandemic.

We were among the first cities where quarantine restrictio­ns were lifted from ECQ to MECQ to GCQ to MGCQ now. Industries and businesses gradually were reopened and economic activities slowly increased.

In the eventualit­y that Covid-19 cases would increase, quarantine restrictio­ns would again be tightened and in the worst case scenario, we would go back to ECQ. Businesses would be ordered closed and everybody will be restricted to their homes again.

What would happen to the economy? Will the beloved mayor feed all of us if ever this will happen?

Many residents of Baguio reacted negatively because we all suffered for the past months. The tourists who are eager enough to come to Baguio will be least affected if this happens. They will go back to their normal lives wherever they came from, and we, who welcomed them, will again suffer.

Where’s the balance if that happens?

 ??  ?? Every Friday
Every Friday

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